When Calvert High School faced a space crunch four years ago, Principal Eugene Bridgett decided to sacrifice his office space so that his teachers wouldn't have to.

He put up a partition that cut his office in half and converted part of his suite into a makeshift supply closet, which now holds boxes of M&M's and student tests stacked halfway to the ceiling.

"I consider myself a blue-collar principal," he said. "I'm not going to ask you to do something that I'm not willing to do myself."

At Calvert High, there's not much Bridgett doesn't do. He is a ubiquitous presence on the 1,200-person Prince Frederick campus, popping up at almost every athletic event and artistic performance.

"There is never a day you don't see him," said Elizabeth Bruce, 16, a junior. "It's not like he's hiding in his office. He is always in the hallways; he is always in the classrooms."

One recent morning, Bridgett was patrolling the halls and chatting with students. He knows almost everyone in the school and makes it a point to address students by name. Bridgett, 51, said he wants them to know he cares about them.

"People like to be recognized for who they are and be called by name," he said.

He suddenly noticed a teenager in a black coat, Timberland boots and baggy jeans. "Good morning, Darrius!" he called out.

"I know at least 80 percent of the students in the building," Bridgett said proudly as he continued his tour of the hallway.

Bridgett, who has been principal of Calvert High since 1996, is also popular among teachers.

Jennifer Andreasen, chairman of the English department, remembers his reaction three years ago when she asked to work part time to spend more time with her daughter. She thought Bridgett would reject her request, which was unheard of at the time.

"I had a whole spiel ready," she said. "But he just said, 'Yeah, sure, we'll work it out.' He goes out of his way to make our jobs easier."

Growing up in Charles County, Bridgett said he never expected to become a teacher. As a catcher on the Frostburg State University baseball team, he dreamed of being drafted by a professional team. When that didn't work out, he turned to teaching and coaching.

During the winter, he still sometimes throws the ball around with Calvert High's baseball team.

"I don't think they dreamed that I could actually play," he said with a laugh. "I think that scored me some points with them."

Over the years, Bridgett has not been above public embarrassment to win the affection of his students.

His wall displays a picture of him kissing a pig at homecoming ("he was a nice enough pig," the principal says) and another of him dressed in a kilt.

Bridgett does not like to dwell on the difficulties the school has faced, such as last year's enrollment, which forced him to pack 1,868 students into a building rated to hold no more than 1,230.

"It was just like cattle going through," he said.

Bridgett brought in nine trailers -- "relocatable" classrooms as they are known among school administrators -- and spent hours planning schedules to fit all the students into the school. The opening of Huntingtown High School this fall solved the problem, and this year Calvert High has a more manageable 1,162 students.

When some new students complained this year that the school is crowded, Bridgett chuckled.

"You know, crowded is a relative term," he told them.

Bridgett doesn't allow his students to wallow in negativity or self-pity. The creed he imparts to them over the loudspeaker every quarter is the same one he lives by: "You have the ability to have a good day, but the choice is yours."

"I know at least 80 percent of the students in the building," said Bridgett, principal since 1996.